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World Water Day 2015

Every year for World Water Day, we invite some of our women entrepreneurs to our office in Tamale for a little celebration. Although many of these ladies have worked with Saha for years, they rarely get to meet other water entrepreneurs since their communities are far from each other. We love having an excuse to get some of the women together so they can share ideas, discuss issues and have fun getting to know one another. It’s one of our favorite days of the year! Read about past World Water Days here, here and here!

Since n oone from our American team was in Ghana for World Water Day this year, I’m turning the blog over to one of our managers, Eric. This is Eric’s first blog post!

Picking which women to invite to World Water Day is always a hard decision. This year, the staff sat at a meeting and decided to cast lots to pick the women to invite. All Saha Global villages were written on pieces of paper. Each staff member took turns to pick a village till we got to the number needed. The chosen villages were later visited by staff to formerly invite the women for World Water Day.

On the day of the celebration, when they got to town from their respective villages, the women called the office of their arrival. They were told to grab any available cab and directions were given to the driver and they were brought to the office.

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When the first batch of women arrived, a movie was played with the projector whilst the other were waited on. Anytime a batch came, they were served with drinks. Sachet water was also available. Later we gave the women a tour and they were excited to see their pictures displayed in the office!

WWD1

Once everyone arrived, presentations started. Peter started by welcoming the women and talked on World Water Day. It’s celebrated all over the world all in the aim of bringing awareness on the need to drink safe,clean drinking water. Wahab talked on why dugout water is not safe to drink. He talked on how the dugout gets contaminated with human and animal excrement, and also sewage from households. That causes bacteria which make people sick. I then talked on sales and savings. I explained the ways they can make sales anytime water is treated, like making an announcement at the mosque or going round households to tell people that water is ready.  I also talked about how savings is important so that parts can be fixed or replaced when spoilt. Next, Shak encouraged the women to keep up the good work. He spoke on the need to always contact the chief and elders to update them on the progress of their work. Finally, Amin finished the presentations by telling the women to keep their centers clean and attractive. He spoke on the need to keep centres up and running and finished with a poem on water.

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We then help lead discussions among the women. The women from Moya talked about how their village has taken the centre seriously. People come to refill their safe storage containers anytime they run out of clean water. Awabu from Kulaa said “Saha is the best!” Although other two water projects have been set up in Kulaa,the people still come to the center to refill their safe storage containers. Djelo women are happy that solar has been added to the water centre. Now at night, their kids read and do their homework. The village is now bright at night and they are grateful. Women from Laligu said how people, especially the kids, used to complain of stomach ache. But now, thanks to the water treatment center, they don’t experience such again.

After three staff members gave their presentations, we went for break. Food and drinks were served. Presentations continued after the break. After presentations,the women were thanked for making it possible. Women were given transport money. Later went out and took a group picture of the staff with the women. The cab drivers were called and and the women departed the office to their various stations. It was a great day!

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Shak, Eric, Peter, Wahab, Amin, and Mark, with Fusiena, Zelia, Azara, Zaharawu, Sharatu, Awabu, Fati, Kusumi, Memounatu, Latifa, Moshi, Memounatu, Sharatu, Fatima, Fatimatah and Hamshaw.

-Eric Angkosaala

The Seasons They are a-Changin’

CWS Tamale staff wishing this nice truck was ours! Sadly it's just the landlord's...
CWS Tamale staff wishing this nice truck was ours! Sadly it’s just the landlord’s…

First week back in Tamale and Hamatan is in full swing! Hamatan is when a dry-dust wind blows in from the Sahara. This happens from late November until mid-March all over West Africa. This Saharan wind engulfs the city of Tamale every year with a thick orange cloud of dust, leaving us with chilly nights and burning hot days.

Shak tastes the borehole water in Buhijaa
Shak tastes the borehole water in Buhijaa

What does this mean for CWS? Well for the staff it means that we finish our days with an orange dust facemask and dirty feet. For CWS project manager, Peter, it means he comes back from the field with a carrot colored beard. For our 47 communities, the Hamatan wind does not affect water sales per se but the seasonal changing of weather has a big impact on where people get their water.

During Hamatan, it gets drier and drier in and around Tamale. This means that water sources like manmade wells; boreholes and dugouts start to dry up. In many of CWS’ villages, the community water sources change, which creates challenges for the entrepreneurs who run the water businesses. This has several implications. Some women have to close their centers for a few weeks as they transition to treating water from a different source, some have to pay donkeys or motor kings to bring them water to treat and some move their water treatment centers multiple times… All the women are unique in their approach to dealing with seasonal transitions and CWS ensures that they are coming up with a plan that’s right for them.

Fati and Amina aka “Samlenna” or TZ seller are the women who operate the water business in the village of Gbung. When it rains, the women move their center from the dugout to the market in the middle of town and treat collected rainwater. In the Hamatan season,  the people who live in Gbung get their water from a few different places. They get it from a nearby stream and from a closer but smaller dugout that dries up for half the year. No one is collecting household water at the dugout where the polytank initially was built. So for the time being, Fati and Samlenna are paying a motor king to bring them water. The women are working on adjusting the price of water to reflect the increase in water treatment costs. The center is still running despite these seasonal challenges!

Children hanging in Libi
Children hanging in Libi

In nearby Libi, Cheriba and Ramatu closed their center for a month for a number of reasons. In December, the path to their stream where the polytank stand was initially constructed was still muddy and overgrown. Cheriba told CWS field staff that her fellow community members were getting water from a number of sources. Some people got it from manmade wells, some got it from smaller dugouts and some had stored rainwater. She said that if she opened for business nobody would come. She wanted to wait until people started going back to the stream to collect household water.  Ramatu and Cheriba will be opening for business this week!

The well in Tacpuli
The well in Tacpuli

Tacpuli was the lowest performing CWS village in October 2012. Lasinche, the woman who runs the water business in Tacpuli was having a hard time getting people to come to buy water post-rainy season. Many people had rainwater stored in their houses and did not want to make the muddy trek to the dugout to buy clean water. Lasinche tackled the problem on her own and moved the water treatment center to a well that was closer and more accessible for the community. Lasinche kept the center at the well for all of December and for the beginning of January. She moved the center back to the dugout and sales are going well for her!

Memouna and Damu - The women entrepreneurs of the newly implemented Tindan (not to be confused with the Tindan implemented in October)
Memouna and Damu – The women entrepreneurs of the newly implemented Tindan (not to be confused with the Tindan implemented in October)

Weather patterns, climate change and seasonal challenges all play a major role in determining where people get their drinking water and the amount of water that is available year round to treat. In Tacpuli, Gbung and Libi, three villages that are very close in proximity to one another, these factors all affect them in different ways.  After working in these communities for a few months, I’ve noticed that the best solutions are formed organically from the entrepreneurs or the community members themselves. As Shak, the CWS assistant project manager always says, “We are not the ones getting our drinking water from the village.” He makes a good point. While CWS works its hardest to make sure all 47 water businesses are running effectively, we will never be able to control the weather and we are not the ones drinking the water. The women and the people who live in these communities need to be the decision-makers for seasonal problems that arise throughout the year. And this goes for all development projects, not just water.

-Brianán

 

An exciting start to the year!

So far, 2010 has been a great year for Community Water Solutions!  Here are some of the things we are excited about:

The CWS Fellowship Program

CWS has just launched our new fellowship program, a three-week leadership training and water education experience in Northern Region Ghana.  The purpose of the fellowship is to teach individuals about the global water crisis, and inspire them to become leaders in the field of international development.

The field of international development can often be a hard to break into.  Post college, I was constantly looking for jobs abroad with non-profits and international aid organizations, and ran into many roadblocks.  Most jobs in international development require years of “field experience,” but how can you get this experience if no one will hire you?! Its frustrating. Through the CWS Fellowship, we are hoping to provide individuals with some of the field experience necessary to start a career in international development, while also teaching them about the global water crisis.

We believe that this program is going to be the future of CWS.  It will not only allow us to reach more villages more quickly through the help of our fellows, but also help us spread awareness about the water problem.  We hope to inspire others to join us in providing clean water for the world, either by staying on with CWS, joining another organization working on water treatment, working in public policy, or starting their own non-profit or social enterprise!

CWS is now accepting applications for our Summer Fellowship (June 6th – 28th).  If you are interested in applying for the CWS Fellowship Program, please our website and download an application!

Look like fun? This could be YOU!

The Medfield Fundriaser

On Saturday Feb. 6th, we are holding our first fundraising event of 2010 at the Kingsbury Club in Medfield, MA. As I mentioned in the previous blog, the event will feature a fun African drumming performance by the Rhythm Room Live! We will also be showing a movie with pictures and videos from our past year in Ghana, so that past donors can see how much they have helped to make a difference.  The event is going to be a blast and I hope to see you all there!  A big thanks to Alyse Shorland for putting together the movie for us, and to Jill Moran for volunteering her time and event-planning skills to help us put this together!


We’re Getting a TRUCK!

For the past year, one of our biggest fundraising goals was to raise enough money to buy a truck in Ghana. In the past, we used taxis to get out to our villages, which was extremely expensive and time consuming (the amount of time wasted just waiting for our taxi drivers to show up is ridiculous!) Thanks to all of the support we received over the holiday season (especially from the MIT-Sloan Auction and the Global Giving campaign) we are finally able to get our truck!  This will save us enormous amounts of money in transportation (all of which can now go towards helping more villages get clean water!) and will allow us to reach villages in more rural, secluded areas!  Peter is currently working on getting his drivers license so he will be ready to drive the truck when I come back in February.  Be on the look-out for a post sometime next months with pictures of our new ride!

In a couple of months, CWS could be sporting a truck very similar to this bad boy!

Echoing Green

For the second year in a row, CWS is a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship.  We are so excited, and honored to have made it this far!  With all of the work we’ve done since last year, including in the addition of the fellowship program we think we have a better shot than last year!

Heading Back to Ghana

My plane ticket has officially been reserved and I will be heading back to Ghana on February 15th!  I will have a very busy winter and spring, implementing in at least five more villages (sponsored by the Clopecks, our Facebook causes group, Gerry and Judy O’Connell, iContact, and one anonymous donor), while also preparing for our fellows to arrive in June. While fundraising and administrative work is a necessary component of working for a non-profit, I, like many others in my position I’m sure, truly love working in the field.  I can’t wait to get back to Ghana and start doing what I love!

Welcome to the CWS Family Jarigu!

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After two weeks of visiting many rural villages in Northern Region Ghana, we have selected Jarigu to be the next site for a CWS water treatment business. Not only does Jarigu meet all of the CWS village criteria (the only source of water is a dugout, the dugout does not dry-out in the dry season, the village is the right size, and there are no current water treatment projects), but it is also about 10 minutes away from Nyamaliga, which will make monitoring the two villages much easier Peter (our project manager). I met with the village elders today to explain the project and they were very eager to work with us and seemed to really understand the idea of a water treatment business. Over the next two weeks Peter and I will be working with members of Jarigu to build the water treatment center, distribute safe storage containers to every family, and select and train two women to work at the center. We are really excited to start implementing in this village and look forward to updating everyone on our progress. Thank you to Volunteer Shredding, LLC, Greg and Susan Gintoff for sponsoring this CWS water treatment business! Your donation is providing a permanent source of clean water for ~750 people!

Jerigu
Jarigu
The Jerigu Dugout- a shallow, stagnant, mad-made pond.  This is their only source of water.
The Jarigu Dugout- a shallow, stagnant, mad-made pond. This is their only source of water.
Close up of the Jerigu dugout.  People frequently ask us what water the people villages were drinking before we got there, well, this is it.
Close up of the Jarigu dugout. People frequently ask us what water the people villages were drinking before we got there, well, this is it.
Getting a water sample from the dugout- the water tested postive for E.coli. which indicates fecal contamination.
Getting a water sample from the dugout- the water tested positive for E.coli. which indicates fecal contamination.
Children in Jerigu
Children in Jarigu